Anil John
Making Digital Services Secure and Trustworthy

Anil John

Leaving GSA and FICAM

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I have tendered my resignation to the GSA and the FICAM Program. It is an amicable parting which I initiated, and I am staying on until February 21, 2015 to help with the transition. I have not made up my mind on what to do next.

I enjoyed the Q&A format Tim Bray used for this topic, so let me go with that.

What happened?

No drama there. Just January 3rd.

Early in my career, I decided to be very mindful when it came to charting my professional life.

What that has meant is that every year, on the anniversary of my job entry (Jan 3rd for me), I think deeply and carefully about the answer to the question “Do I want to renew my employment contract for another year?”

There are a variety of decision factors I use (impact, influence, growth, people, work-life, compensation, etc.) that are not generic, but unique to me and my circumstances.

The answer this time turned out to be a ‘No’. A family conversation ensued, and here we are.

So GSA and the Government are horrible places to work?

Very much the opposite.

GSA is a unique organization that sits at the cross-roads of policy, technology, contracts, and acquisition. It’s mission (my POV) is to enable the government as a whole to effectively deliver services both internally and externally.

It is pretty good at that, and being part of that mission is a truly empowering experience.

As to working in Government, I happen to think that from a career perspective, public service continues to be at the top of my list as THE place to tackle interesting, challenging problems that can have massive and real impact.

I simply choose to make a distinction between a career and a particular job.

How do you feel about leaving?

Rather sad. I’ve had the privilege of being a civil servant in a job (identity/security/privacy/digital service delivery) that is very interesting, and have had the opportunity to accomplish many things that simply are not possible outside of the public sector. I will miss that platform for engagement.

But it is the dedication and the drive of my peers, both in the U.S. and elsewhere, that I will miss the most.

So what’s next for you?

I have no idea. From a financial perspective I could stop working and we would be fine, but that would rapidly drive me bonkers (as I discovered back in 2013 during the government shutdown when I was legally not allowed to work!)

For now, I am looking to clear my head, gain some non-emotional perspective (which will more than likely involve hiking and backpacking), and see what the future holds.

What won’t you do?

There are many things I won’t do. “Selling” my contacts and relationships with friends and former peers to “open doors” for businesses is near the top of that list.

What do you like to do?

My tagline says it best: “I am a digital security coach. I help technical leaders gain clarity and understanding on complex identity, information security and privacy practices, so they can enable secure, trustworthy digital services”

Aspects of the various jobs I’ve enjoyed have been providing strategic advice and guidance to product groups and early stage companies, building products and services that require technical savvy as well as working through the organizational chaff that gets thrown your way.

I’ve also taught a graduate level class back in the day (SOA at Johns Hopkins University) and enjoyed that. Hmm… Keep thinking semi-regularly about the lack of formal classes around identity, access control, privacy etc. I would enjoy that, because students challenge your assumptions and make you grow.

For more, look around this blog, which was recognized as a “Must-Read Federal IT Blog of 2014” by FedTech Magazine. I’ve been blogging since about 2003 (here and other places), and am pretty open about what I am all about :-)

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This blog post first appeared on Anil John | Blog ( The opinions expressed here are my own and do not represent my employer’s view in any way.

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